Turning the Page (1978-1985)

Turning the Page (1978-1985)

With Monsignor Meyer stepping aside it was, of course, necessary to find yet one more leader to assume the role of Director of the CYC. The St. Louis Cardinal Archbishop John Joseph Carberry did not have to look very far. Sitting in his office as Associate Director at the CYC Office on Lindell was Father Larry Walsh. Father was just completing five years in that position when Cardinal Carberry, who was in his final year as the shepherd of the St. Louis Archdiocese, named him to the post of CYC Director in 1978.

Ordained in 1963, Father Walsh had spent the succeeding 15 years working with the young people of the Archdiocese as a teacher, associate pastor, coach and assistant CYC Director. His energy and enthusiasm to advocate for and lead youth was second to none. His creativity and Irish wit served him well in connecting with the children and teens to whom he was so dedicated. As Director of the CYC, he called on his years of practical experience, added a touch of originality and personal charm to lead the CYC program for the next five years.

As Director he oversaw the continuation of the expansion of the CYC. Working with Sports Director Joe Carenza, they continued to administer the CYC programs as examples of positive productive programs. Both of these dedicated leaders knew the importance sports could play in the development of young people; always stressing teamwork, discipline and hard work to achieve ones goal.

All of the CYC programs flourished and provided the opportunity to thousands of St. Louis area children and youth to be a part of this outstanding exercise. Programs such as CYO club soccer, CYC Major Baseball and CYC basketball expanded. The soccer program added girl’s soccer and the boys became part of the CYC volleyball efforts. New parish sports associations joined the CYC from St. Charles, West County and the South County districts.

Additional expansion in the annual CYC Parochial Track Meet and the continued first class soccer competition each year in the CYC High School Soccer tournament was a constant reminder to the community of the importance and impact of CYC sports. Training leagues for thousands of pre-K through 2nd graders continued to spring up across the Archdiocese to introduce these youngest CYC’ers to the fun of sport.

While the CYC continued to thrive during this period, 1981 also provided us all with a tragic loss when CYC Sports Director Joe Carenza, died suddenly in an automobile accident in early October. This was truly a great man, who gave everything he had to provide the young people of the CYC with a positive experience in sports. Joe’s love for his family, his church and the CYC provide us with an outstanding example of what is really important in life. Those of us who were blessed to have known him will always be grateful for that gift.

Joe Carenza had, in his lifetime, become a true St. Louis soccer legend. His love of the game as a player, coach and administrator has left an indelible mark on the local and national soccer community. It also earned him a much deserved place in the National Soccer Hall of Fame, with his election in 1982 to the shrine. At that time Joe joined his long time friend and CYC predecessor Bob Guelker, who had been elected to the Hall two years earlier. So it was that the two men who directed CYC sports for 35 years, from 1946 to 1981, both attained one of the games highest honors. Their impact and influence on the young people of our community is impossible to measure.

Reminding us that the only thing that never changes is the fact the things always change; 1983 saw CYC Director Larry Walsh announce his resignation to accept a new role for the church. Father was appointed Pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in South St. Louis. Because of Archdiocesan policy, in order to accept that position he had to give up his role as CYC Director. His ten years in leadership positions of the CYC played a major part in the continuing success of the program.

Again the Archdiocese looked inside the CYC for its next Director. Bob Rastberger, who had served the CYC and its young participants for nearly 20 years, accepted the role of Director in April 1983. Bob had been instrumental in the CYC for those two decades in directing the Catholic Scouting programs, Camp Don Bosco in Hillsboro Missouri and the CYC Teenage programs. Those three major programs along with CYC sports and the Young Adult program efforts made up the wide ranging and comprehensive approach to our service to youth in the St. Louis community.

Under his leadership all of the Youth Programs continued with great success. Bob looked to expand the CYC by bringing the Ujima Youth Program into the CYC. The efforts of the Ujima program were concentrated on the city’s North Side and continued the CYC’s outreach to the entirety of the municipal area. He developed additional approaches to leadership development for young people throughout the Archdiocese.

On August 13,1984 the CYC staff and St. Louis community received word of the passing of Rev. Msgr. Lloyd Sullivan. Monsignor, who was just shy of his 79th birthday, had been instrumental in the early success of the CYC while serving as Executive Director from 1947 until 1960. His contributions in the formation of the CYC were significant and remain in place today. More information regarding his service to the youth of the Archdiocese can be found in Chapters II and III of this history.

1984 saw the re-introduction of the CYC Sports Service Awards. These honors were given to individuals and couples who had made significant contributions to the various CYC sports. The honorees were cited for their service at the parish, district and archdiocesan level. These awards had been previously given during the 1950’s and 60’s at the annual sports dinners.

Bob Rastberger’s aggressive leadership further expanded the CYC’s working relationships with surrounding Dioceses in Springfield-Cape, Jefferson City, Belleville Illinois and others. The CYC expanded its partnership with the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) by providing Archdiocesan presence in Ministry, Scouting and Youth Sports committees and programs on the national level.

Bob’s contributions to the CYC program were impressive and appreciated by the staff, adult volunteer leadership and the youth and young adult participants. Under his direction the CYC continued to provide outstanding opportunities to Archdiocesan young people. When Bob left his position as Director of the CYC, yet another page in the CYC history book was soon to be turned.

Denny Handley is the Sr. Manager of Media, Marketing, and Technology for the Department of Evangelization and Parish Ministry Support in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He's a husband, father, musician, and a true coffee nerd.